As a result of the widespread shift to hybrid working and learning brought about by the pandemic, the cloud continues to play a critical role for public sector organisations – particularly those in the education sector.

Enlightened by the accelerated digital transition over the past two years, students, researchers and staff are now demanding cloud-hosted resources and online lessons, and are vying for access to modern tools and services.

The benefits are clear for IT leaders, too. Not only is cloud technology a key enabler in the sought-after modernisation process, but it also enables organisations to innovate quickly, enjoy greater resilience, and continue to be agile in order to meet students’ ever-changing needs.

Although the potential gains are clear to see, public sector organisations looking to migrate to the cloud often face a wide range of challenges, from privacy and security concerns to a lack of in-house IT staff.

One of the greatest challenges, however, is a difficulty fitting into cloud industry-standard processes. This means cost and affordability are often cited as the main reason for hesitancy around moving away from on-premise systems.

For example, while it may be typical for a commercial organisation to sign up to a multi-million-pound cloud contract in return for a discount, such activities can prove difficult for UK public sector organisations. Even making the most out of smaller commitments in return for a discount, such as Reserved Instances or Saving Plans, can be a nightmare for public sector procurement teams.

This is why, in order to make a successful transition to cloud, organisations require the help of a financially focused cloud reseller like Strategic Blue to ensure they can better manage, control, reduce and optimise their cloud costs.

Strategic Blue, an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Advanced Consulting Partner with a specialist education competency, helps organisations to buy cloud a brighter way. Using the appropriate purchasing framework agreement and pricing models, organisations can procure cloud services in a compliant way. Strategic Blue can also put in place additional discount options from cloud providers to help reduce costs.

For example, it helps the University of California, San Diego, to save on average 17% per month, while increasing their breadth of service adoption by 14%. Similarly, it helps the University of York make significant monthly cloud savings, reduce internal time spent managing cloud costs and cut the complexity of their cloud billing.

Not only does Strategic Blue’s commodity trading approach to purchasing cloud reduce both cost and uncertainty, it also helps organisations reduce their carbon footprint and edge closer to meeting their net zero goals – by enabling cost effective and efficient use of cloud.

Ultimately, it’s clear that a transition to the cloud is a smart choice for education providers – and Strategic Blue can help ensure you’re making the most of that investment. To find out how Strategic Blue can help your business click here.

Hybrid Cloud

Educational institutions are continuing to accelerate their use of technologies such as e-learning, VR and AI-driven chatbots in order to facilitate remote and hybrid learning. Many expect the use of these digital technologies to become a permanent change, having recognised the flexibility and productivity benefits it can bring.

In a recent survey with leading institution across Germany, Ireland, Netherland and Sweden- close to half (46%) of campus IT and faculty say that greater use of social media for study support groups will become a permanent teaching method. While 19% believe a greater use of collaboration technologies for lectures will become an enduring teaching method. This survey also demonstrated that IT upgrades have affected the way people feel about technology, having learnt new skills and improved their work-life balance. 

The continued demand for distance learning means schools and universities are under increasing pressure to conduct lectures via digital platforms. However, at the same time institutions are having to meet complex security and compliance requirements and are often locked into the high capital expenditures that come with ageing data centres, long-term contracts and legacy applications.

What’s more, organisations in the public sector are often met with resistance from senior leaders when it comes to embracing new technologies, such as the cloud. This problem is often fuelled by a lack of awareness surrounding the ‘what’ and ‘how’ to adopt the cloud technology, along with fears over how much the migration journey could cost.

The Open Clouds for Research Environments (OCRE) framework enables schools, universities and research institutions to use cloud services more easily and helps them to recognise the full benefits of migrating from expensive legacy technologies.

It can save institutions from time-consuming and complex processes and gives them access to cloud services at a discounted rate, helping institutions that need funding assistance in order to migrate. By using the OCRE service agreements, the universities and the research community can access unique OCRE discounts to Amazon Web Services (AWS) that would otherwise not be available.

OCRE also takes the complexity out of compliance, offering ready-to-use contracts that have been designed to satisfy national and European public sector procurement regulations and GDPR requirements. Institutions can also be confident they’re meeting the education and research community’s specific requirements, including procurement and payment models that match the sector’s financial structures and funding prerequisites.

Rackspace has been exclusively chosen by GÉANT – the pan-European data network for the research and education community – to provide AWS services to institutions through the OCRE framework. This means that organisations concerned about the skills gap when it comes to IT expertise in the cloud can make use of free training on AWS. Rackspace, which has 15 AWS competencies, and 2700+ certifications, can also has considerable experience helping customers implement AWS solutions.

Ultimately, the OCRE framework empowers research institutions and universities to move their IT environments to the cloud, and to recognise the full benefits of doing so. Institutions can expect an increase in productivity, an improved work life balance, and can make it easier for students to work at their own pace.

If you want to learn more about Rackspace click here.

Education Industry

The digital transformation of the education sector is accelerating at pace. You don’t need to look far to find powerful examples of how data is helping to enrich both student and educator outcomes. Gardens, Libraries and Museums of The University of Oxford digitised its collections and reduced storage costs by 50-60% and avoided a management cost increase of 13% with the cloud.

Anjanesh Babu of the University of Oxford worked with CirrusHQ to deliver the service. He said: “Cirrus HQ have been an engaging, proactive and learning partner for us. Every one of their team – from the account manager, to solution architects to accounts have a clear sense of dedication, purpose and focus putting the customer first. They are willing to learn and adapt from customer inputs which puts them solidly ahead in the partnership space. CirrusHQ are considered an extension of our internal team with shared expertise as well as knowledge.”

At the core of this transformation lies the need to leverage data and associated apps and services in a way that is agile, cost effective, secure and scalable. Migrating data, apps and services to a market-leading cloud provider, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), delivers all of this and more. And working with a trusted AWS partner such as CirrusHQ can help education providers unlock the full potential of these benefits.

Bursting cloud-migration myths

Institutions are often concerned about losing control of their data, but cloud migration actually empowers data access and agility. Ultimately cloud migration, using a solution such as AWS, enables educators to focus more time, money and effort on delivering first-class outcomes rather than being distracted by the very real demands of running hardware and software.

Cloud services have evolved rapidly in recent years and many of the perceived barriers to migration no longer exist.

There are a couple of myths when it comes to the cloud. Firstly, that the cloud is too expensive. There is a cost of migration, but cloud providers such as AWS have reduced the total cost of ownership significantly. Cloud services generally now cost less than owning and managing a physical data centre.

The second myth is that the cloud isn’t secure. Market leaders, such as AWS, subject themselves to some of the strictest security controls and audits in the industry. The biggest risks instead now lie with apps and services which have been poorly designed by organisations themselves.

Six benefits of cloud migration in education

Cloud use cases can be found right across the education sector. For example, a step-change in innovation, performance and student provision can be achieved in administration and assessment processing, teaching practices, remote learning and continual professional development. Andre Zelenka, from Birkbeck, University of London said: “AWS Technology is vast and CirrusHQ have engaged with us to understand our requirements, propose a sensible way forward, and help us to execute that. All without recourse to AWS tech speak, smoothing the path for our projects.”

The wider benefits of cloud migration also include: 

Cost reduction – Education companies can, on average, save just under a third (31%) of data management costs.Digital transformation – Cloud isn’t just a great way to store data, it is transformational. For example, it enables public sector organisations to innovate and adopt an entrepreneurial ‘fail fast’ mentality, accelerating time to market.Agility, staff productivity and staff retention – AWS migration is shown to trigger a 66% boost in administrator productivity.Security and resilience – According to IDC, IT systems downtime costs the global economy up to $2.5 billion annually. With AWS, however, companies operate on one secure, robust platform, enabling superior governance.Avoiding vendor lock-in – Market-leading cloud services such as AWS do all the heavy lifting, making it easy for customers using end-of-life products to migrate their databases and servers to the cloud and modernise in a streamlined way. Organisations are urged, however, to take action before vendor lock-in becomes an urgent problem.Scalability at speed – Cloud services such as AWS enable education sector organisations to futureproof their IT ecosystems, scale at their own pace, with no limits, adding resources at the right time and expanding their cloud environment to meet changing needs and goals.

Finding the right partner

Organisations in the education sector looking to move to the cloud will need help throughout the migration process. The ideal partner will have AWS partner certifications, a high customer satisfaction score and case studies demonstrating that they follow best practice.

Proven industry experience in this fast-moving area is also essential. CirrusHQ, for example, has an AWS migration track record going back 15 years, and answers an average of 4,000 customer support requests every month.

It is also worth working with a migration partner with a good geographic spread, so you can be confident of support whenever and wherever you need it. CirrusHQ has capability to deliver in both the UK and EMEA.

To find out more about how CirrusHQ can help click here.

Education Industry